A by-the-numbers look at the Cubs’ All-Star chances
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In their quest for a fourth consecutive playoff appearance, the Cubs have had no one dominant player.
Instead, with All-Star voting ongoing, seven North Siders are among the 38 National League position players at 1.4 WAR or better, as calculated at Baseball-Reference.com.
Here’s an All-Star numbers check on the Cubs’ position players at 1.4 or better (all stats through Sunday):
Catcher: Willson Contreras’ team-leading 2.1 bWAR ranks second among catchers to the Marlins’ J.T. Realmuto’s 2.2, with the Giants’ Buster Posey and the Pirates’ Francisco Cervelli at 1.8.
With a .281 batting average and .825 OPS, Contreras is near his career averages of .279 and .845. He has hit only four home runs after hitting 21 last season, but his strikeout rate is down to 17.9 percent after 22.9 percent in 2017 and 23.7 percent in 2016.
Second base: Javy Baez (1.6 bWAR, team-leading 14 homers) ranks third behind the Reds’ Scooter Gennett (2.5) and the Phillies’ Cesar Hernandez (2.0).
Baez is fourth in the NL with 46 RBI, two behind leader Eugenio Suarez of the Reds. Gennett has 47 RBI, and his .340 batting average and .932 OPS are well ahead of Baez’s .250 and .801.
Shortstop: Addison Russell’s 1.6 bWAR is tied with the Cardinals’ Paul DeJong for fifth at the position, where the Giants’ Brandon Crawford leads at 2.9.
Russell, with a .273 batting average, .719 OPS and two homers, has not been an offensive force. Defense is another matter. His nine defensive runs saved leads major-league shortstops, and his bWAR includes a 1.2 defensive WAR.
Third base: Kris Bryant’s 1.9 bWAR ranks fourth, with the Brewers’ Travis Shaw leading at 2.4.
After Bryant hit the most recent of his eight home runs May 14, his OPS stood at 1.001. Now it has slid to .902 to go with his .293 batting average. Bryant has hit fewer ground balls (32.6 percent of batted balls after 37.7 percent last season), and his line-drive rate is up from 19.9 percent to 25.7 percent.
Outfield: Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora Jr. are tied with the Mets’ Brandon Nimmo for seventh among NL outfielders at 1.9 bWAR, with Ben Zobrist 12th at 1.4. The top three are the Brewers’ Lorenzo Cain (3.3), the Braves’ Nick Markakis (2.4) and the Brewers’ Christian Yelich (2.3).
Almora (.317 batting average, .809 OPS) has a large platoon split, with .347/.905 against left-handers and .305/.754 against right-handers. That’s a step up from 2017, when the splits were .342/.898 against lefties and .271/.711 against righties.
Schwarber (.249 batting average, .865 OPS, 11 homers) closed strong last season, with an .894 OPS in the second half after a .694 in the first half, and he has kept it up. Most surprisingly, he’s at +7 runs saved to rank fifth among major-league left fielders.
Zobrist (.290 batting average, .808 OPS) is off to a comeback start after a .232 batting average and .693 OPS last season. Part of his bad season was an abnormally low .251 batting average on balls in play, and part of his good beginning is a .316 BABiP that’s higher than his career .289. That’s fueled by a rise in line drives from 15.6 percent last season to 23 percent this season.